Omagh (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 22-May-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 101:46 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pete Travis
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Gerard McSorley
Michele Forbes
Brenda Fricker
Stuart Graham
Peter Ballance
Pauline Hutton
Fiona Glascott
Kathy Kiera Clarke
Claire Connor
Gerard Crossan
Ian McElhinney
Sarah Gilbert
Alan Devlin
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    On 15 August 1998 a car bomb exploded in a crowded street in Omagh, a town in Northern Ireland. When the dust settled 29 people had been killed and hundreds injured. At a time when peace negotiations seemed to have finally worked it was the second worst terrorist act in the history of "the troubles".

    Writer Paul Greengrass is no stranger to putting dark episodes of history on screen after his recent movie Bloody Sunday, dealing with the 1972 massacre, and the new film United 93 about the 9/11 hijack. This time he has given the reigns to television director Pete Travis who handles the volatile subject matter with great dignity and restraint.

    Omagh (made in 2004) is not a documentary although you could be forgiven for confusing it with one. The digital camerawork is jerky and fly-on-the-wall style. The colours are drained from the film and it is often as stark to look at as the sad day itself. There is no music with the exception of a song at the end which was apparently sung at the memorial service for the victims of the bombing.

    As its focus Omagh centres on one family affected by the bombing. Michael and Patsy Gallagher lost a child in the blast and the film centres on the family through three time periods: the day of the bombing, two months later and a further six months later. Michael becomes a reluctant figurehead for the families of the victims seeking answers from a government and a police force which they, the film suggests, are keen to suppress. The sad conclusion of the film is that the truth will probably never be known and the politics of peace have swallowed the desire to pursue and punish the guilty. It is a difficult message and one which squarely faces the viewer. Is it better that the killers go free if the peace process is brought to a conclusion or should justice prevail even if it means that more lives may be lost?

    Omagh was made for television and rather than this being a limitation it is actually a selling point. The digital video and hand held camera convey a sense of immediacy and the audience is always right there with the family. Gerald McSorley is a revelation as Michael. He is a man without politics caught up in a war he did not start: a testament to the indiscriminate nature of terrorism. Although the film has a strong message about the role of the government and the police in the suppression of the truth it has to be said that Omagh is not a political movie, it is a film about a man and his family.

    The film is at its most dramatic with the opening scenes leading up to the bombing. The director handles the build up in an almost unwatchable manner as people go about their lives oblivious to the knowledge of the imminent death in their midst. A website set up as a testament to the victims has an even eerier image, a photograph of a smiling father and son standing next to the car bomb taken only minutes before the blast. Horrid anticipation intensifies when a school bus pulls up and a group of children make their way to the blast site.

    It is a tribute to the filmmaker that these scenes are handled with great tension and yet there is nothing over-dramatised or exploitative about the film. The scenes where Michael roams the local hospital looking for his child are simple yet overwhelmingly powerful.

    Like Saving Private Ryan after the invasion of Omaha Beach, it is inevitable that the the film can't match the drama of the lead up to the bombing in the remainder of the movie. However, this allows the quiet, dignified performances of the uniformly good cast to come to the fore.

    Omagh has crept into the rental and sales market in Australia without any fanfare. It is a gripping drama which deserves much wider attention.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Omagh was shot on digital video and is brought to DVD at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which would appear to be its original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer for Omagh is very good indeed. I have already mentioned that the film is washed out in its look and there is also a slight grain to it. However, this completely suits the film and gives us a horrid sense that we are right there with the action and heartbreak. All the surroundings, from the overcast town (the film was not shot in Omagh out of respect for the families of the deceased) to the crowded hospital are real and immediate.

    The picture is otherwise sharp and shadow detail is good. There are no artefacts or blemishes to be seen.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The sound for Omagh is Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). The sound is uniformly good and there are no problems with lip sync.

    Surround use is minimal but appropriate to what is really a quiet family story. The subwoofer itself is not used a lot except in the blast scene (the location of which I won't give away).

    The only music is at the end. Dialogue is rendered at sufficient volume to be clearly heard. The only other point worth making is that it takes a while to adjust to the accents of the lead characters . Having said that, the script is deliberately mundane at the beginning as the people go about their ordinary lives with their ordinary concerns.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    This is a simple screen accompanied by some haunting guitar music.

Theatrical Trailer

    The trailer for Omagh is brief yet effective, conveying the drama of the film.

    I am in two minds about the lack of extras on the DVD. One one hand I would have liked to see some documentary material on the Omagh bombing, including the British TV special which voiced concerns about the adequacy of the police enquiries. On the other hand it may have jarred against the film and invited too close a comparison between the truth and the filmmakers representation of he truth.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The version of Omagh available in Region 4 appears to be the same as that available in other regions. Choose the Region 4 release.

Summary

   Omagh is a well directed and heartfelt examination of one of the greatest tragedies in recent British history. Director Pete Travis concentrates on the concerns of a family trying to make sense of it all and largely avoids turning the movie into a political statement. Whether the bombers will ever be brought to justice remains a moot point. This is a finely wrought human drama that deserves to be seen. Although the lack of extras is a disappointment the film stands up well on its own.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE